RORY McILROY modestly refused to describe himself as Tiger's leading rival last night but Woods himself didn't put a tooth in it.
As he prepares to end his five-year drought in the Major championships at Augusta National this week, world No 1 Tiger readily identified the Holywood star as his main rival.
"I think that over the course of my career, I've had a few and Rory certainly is this generation's," said Woods.
"I've had Phil Mickelson and Vijay Singh, Ernie Els and David Duval for a number of years and now Rory's leading the new, younger generation. So yes, definitely, he is my main rival."
That's some compliment to the 23-year-old Ulsterman, knocked off the top of the world by Tiger as the latter romped to victory at Bay Hill last month, his third victory in six events this year. McIlroy (left) yesterday confirmed reports that girlfriend Caroline Wozniacki will caddie for him in today's annual Masters par-three competition.
Yet he refused point-blank to entertain a suggestion that he had a rivalry with Tiger.
"No, not at all," he insisted. "I don't see myself as a rival to anyone. Tiger has been on tour for, I don't know what, 12 years more than me, or something like that.
"When you speak of rivals, you tend to bracket players who've had similar success," McIlroy went on.
"He's got 77 PGA Tour wins and I've got six. He's got 14 Majors and I've got two.
"If I saw myself as a rival to Tiger, I wouldn't be doing him much justice."